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PRIME - 2. Late Lunch

The Italians

“He’s waiting for you.” The curt greeting was standard for Marco. Officially an assistant, we all knew his real job was head of security for our grandfather.

“Oh, hey, Marco. Good to see you too. How’s the wife? Everything okay with the kids?” The face most would describe as carved from granite did not react. My attempts at drawing him out rarely elicited a response; the man was focused on his job at all time. His eyes were always in motion, searching for a threat. He turned them on me for a fraction of a second when I spoke. That was as much acknowledgement as I would get.

I hurried to catch up with Dante who zoomed past the bodyguard without bothering to look at him. “Wait up, dipshit.”

“Language!” Grandpa had heard me and his dislike of crass language came forth. “How about showing a little respect for the patrons?”

Not saying a word, I glanced at the other tables; only one was occupied. Luigi’s Place was always crowded at lunchtime but this late on a rainy, Friday afternoon the place was deserted. “Sorry, Grandpa.”

“Sit. I already ordered for us. Did you guys remember to lock up the house?” Typical of the old man to decide what we would eat. He and the restaurant’s owner were old friends and Luigi would prepare whatever Grandpa wanted, even if it was not on the menu.

“Of course we did. What do you think we are? Ten year olds? We even armed the security system.” Dante’s snappy reply was par-for-the-course for him. While most of us showed deference to the Martellini family patriarch, my cousin treated him as one of his cronies.

“As a matter of fact…” I was certain the malevolent grin presaged one of Grandpa’s surprises. “Sometimes I do wonder how old the two of you are. I feel like I have to send you to different corners of the room to keep you out of mischief.” I could tell the pause to sip his sparkling water was theatrical. He was setting us up. “I’m going to have to separate the two of you. I’m taking Tony out of the bowling alley.”

“What?” I was shocked. “Why?”

“You can’t do that, Grandpa!” Dante was halfway out of his chair, but the Vittorio Martellini stare drove him back into it. His next words were much calmer. “That’s not fair, Grandpa. Tony and I are a team. We took over the place when it was failing. We worked our asses off and turned it around. The alley’s a cash cow for the family!”

My cousin was right. The old bowling alley was a mess when we were given carte blanche with it. An old front for illegal gambling, it rapidly decayed when the family moved out of that line of business. Grandpa had been working for decades to legitimize the family’s enterprises; our task had been to reinvent Williamsburg Lanes.

Dante was the boss, but we worked side by side. We cleaned the place, checked customers in and out, ran the register, ran the café, ran the lounge; we learned the business from the ground up. Then the real work began.

After talking to countless customers and scoping out entertainment venues in the area, we came up with a plan to remodel. Grandpa bought into it and made the necessary funds available. It took a couple of years but you would not believe you were in the same place by the time we were done.

We kept some of the old bowling lanes and equipment for nostalgia’s sake and turned that section into a bar. We reconfigured some of the ancient, wooden planks to create a dance floor. The rest of the interior we pretty much scrapped and recreated with top-of-the-line equipment and finishes. Right now, Williamsburg Lanes was the hippest place in a hip neighborhood.

“Of course I can. I own the place.” Grandpa was not above throwing his weight around, and Dante’s challenge had not gone over well. “Careful I don’t fire you and let Tony run it by himself.”

“I don’t want that, Grandpa.” I was being honest. As much as I enjoyed working there, it was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. “Dante loves the alley more than you can imagine. If you want one of us to go, I will.”

Grandpa’s expression mellowed. Melancholy mixed with something else. When he spoke again, it was in a much softer tone. “Boys, the closer I get to ninety the more I realize I’m running out of time to achieve my goals. I swore an oath the day your grandfather was laid to rest, and I intend to keep it.”

The man with us was our great-grandfather. Before either Dante or I were born, a rival family murdered his son during a turf war. The disputed area was prime ground for streetwalkers, and the intruders wanted to take it away from the Martellinis. He left behind two young boys. Vittorio Martellini raised Dante’s father and mine as if they were his sons, leading to us thinking of him as our grandfather. On the day he buried his murdered son, Grandpa swore to distance the family from criminal enterprises.

“It’s taken a lot of time to eliminate all our ties with the other families, even after we sold or gave away our interests in certain businesses. But we’re almost done.”

Our server removed the antipasto platter we had nearly finished and brought out bowls of pasta smothered in rich gravy. I have no idea what was in it aside from tomatoes, but I could not shove the perfectly al dente penne into my mouth fast enough.

“Where’s the vino, Grandpa?” Dante asked what I had been thinking a moment before.

“Not today. I want us three with clear heads.” The old man didn’t eat as much anymore, he pushed the food away after having finished about half his serving. “You two eat, I’ll talk while you do.

“You guys did a great job in the alley. And yes, I do own it and you’ve been employees up to today. On Monday morning, Dante and I have a meeting with the family attorney. I’ll be transferring the title.” The smile and wink he gave Dante made me chuckle. The damn geezer sure knew how to make us shut up.

“What do you mean?” Dante looked and sounded incredulous. Silly of him, considering Grandpa seldom played practical jokes.

“It means you’ll own Williamsburg Lanes after we sign all the documents. I swore I would take care of the family. It’s your turn.”

The evil grin Dante displayed while staring back and forth between our grandfather and me presaged one of his hare-brained ideas. I was used to this. “Great! Since I’m the boss, I’m hiring Tony back.” He crossed his arms and leaned back; the evil grin became a satisfied smile.

“You’re so damn predictable.” Grandpa’s laughter was a rich counterpoint to Dante’s doubtful look. “If that’s what he wants, fine. But I’m about to make him an offer he’ll not want to refuse.”

My thanks to all the readers who showed the story's opening salvo a little love.

I'd enjoy hearing what you think of this one.

Copyright © 2020 Carlos Hazday; All Rights Reserved.
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My thanks to @Kitt and @Defiance19 for their assistance with the story. Without their help, this would be a mess. :P

 

Story Discussion Topic

Coming to Gay Authors next weekend... A revised and expanded version of a flash piece I posted years ago in response to a weekly prompt.  

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Chapter Comments



An offer Tony can't refuse?  Why does this phraseology make me nervous? :unsure:

Great grandfather paid a horrific price, but his decision to turn the family businesses legitimate will protect his family members and give them a better life. However, I'm worried about his saying that the work (in legitimizing the businesses) is "almost done":  Would he ask Tony to take over a crooked enterprise, even if the final goal is to decriminalize it? And would such a job put Tony at risk?

Edited by travlbug
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7 hours ago, mrbossmant said:

Just know  I Love the characters and stories you spin and cant wait to jump down whatever rabbit hole you open up and join the adventure

Funny thing is those rabbit holes have been created without the aid of chemical substances. Could you imagine what I would write if I didn't so it while sober early in the day? LOL

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6 hours ago, dughlas said:

Hmmm, I wonder what he's going to offer Tony? Nice chapter.

I did mention this story's an expanded version of an old flash piece, right? We've met Tony and Dante before.

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6 hours ago, Tonyr said:

C'mon lenght does matter...!

Your mind's in the gutter!

Here, I'll scoot over so you can have a seat.

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6 hours ago, davewri said:

l gladly read everything you post.  (My personal preference is a long chapter every day)

 

Chapter length's the theme of the day. Longer ones are coming.

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6 hours ago, Will Hawkins said:

I will repeat a comment I made earlier – you re a superior author. You are IN CHARGE of your publishing schedule. Accept your readers pleas for more or faster posting as compliments on your work, but do not let them upset you. You are doing great, just keep up the good work and enjoy the compliments.

Thanks, Will. Let's make sure readers ralize I don't object to their comments, no matter what's said. And I honestly do treat complaints about short chapters as a compliment. If someone had told me 5 years ago I would have a cadre of readers dissecting my stories and asking for more, I would have asked them to pass the doobie. It's extremely flattering.

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6 hours ago, Fae Briona said:

Either way you'll loose.  😉

As long as I'm not told my stories make no sense and my grammar sucks, I consider it a win. :P

 

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5 hours ago, avidreadr said:

I'm quite satisfied with the way you post your stories.  There are times, like early morning, I want shorter length chapters.  If I want more, I read a longer story and as a chronic re-reader, there's always got something to return to.   I'm more curious about what grandpa has in mind.  He's a crafty one!

Got it. Short chapters if I post weekdays, long one if on weekends!

Grandpa promised to take care of the family, Dante gets the bowling alley, let's wait a week for Tony's next challenge.

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5 hours ago, mikedup said:

Awesome chapter, this story is definitely entertaining you just give enough to keep us eagerly waiting for the next chapter, nasty but so good 

If 40 is the new 30, nasty must be the new nice. Santa's gonna be confused. Thanks for reading and the comment, Mike.

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5 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

I need to go bowling I haven't been in a while

I LOVE the reactions my stories evoke from you!

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3 hours ago, Parker Owens said:

I like Vittorio Martinelli’s character already. The scene and conversation were perfect. I can picture it all, taste the food, and hear their voices. I’ll be waiting for more! 

I've watched too many gangster movies. Let me plug The Irishman. De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci are awesome in it.

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3 hours ago, starboardtack said:

Good as far as it went but It is going to take more to each chapter to keep me coming back.

Let me hear from you if you decide to stick around.

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3 hours ago, tabaqui said:

You should know by now that I read everything you produce on GA, and I can wait as long as you need for new chapters/stories since I know you post them completely.  You just spoiled us last year 😘

And since every story you have posted here has been good/entertaining/fun to read/ etcetera just keep on going on your schedule whatever that may be.

 

love the grandpa so far 

I realize I did. Goodnight, My Angel posted weekly for six months and Singer for three months twice a week. By the end of GMA I was starting to feel a little burned out. My solution was to write a bunch of short stories to give CJ a break and to explore some of the other interesting characters I've created. Chipper was the first one and Brad's coming up next month. PRIME's a short story the same as New Year's Day. Ranger's novella length, about 35k words over 13 chapters. I think I'll continue to alternate 2 shorts and 1 long the rest of the year. (I wonder what 2 short 1 long means in Morse Code LOL)

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23 minutes ago, Carlos Hazday said:

I did mention this story's an expanded version of an old flash piece, right? We've met Tony and Dante before.

Oh, I know. I just like seeing how things unfold.

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3 hours ago, Daddydavek said:

I'm in the more is better crowd. But, I'll take what you give us because I know how time consuming writing can be, especially when you try to get it right. 

Thanks for all you do...and keep on doing it!

Remember when there were complaints about my chapters including too much? Ahh, bygone days. The Goldilocks word count's an elusive target. Let's see how next month's story fares.

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2 hours ago, JeffreyL said:

Grandpa is terrific! He is a classic patriarch with a lot of class! You did a great job of letting us get to know him, but isn't chapter two a little early for a cliffhanger? I am looking forward to reading more. Thanks. 

Damn! Loud laughter led to a coughing fit here. Short story, Jeffrey, only 4 chapters and a microscopic epilogue. Although not in word count, we're at the halfway point chapter-wise. If I was ever going to use a cliffhanger, which of course I wouldn't, this would be the perfect spot.

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1 hour ago, travlbug said:

An offer Tony can't refuse?  Why does this phraseology make me nervous? :unsure:

Great grandfather paid a horrific price, but his decision to turn the family businesses legitimate will protect his family members and give them a better life. However, I'm worried about his saying that the work (in legitimizing the businesses) is "almost done":  Would he ask Tony to take over a crooked enterprise, even if the final goal is to decriminalize it? And would such a job put Tony at risk?

Next chapter Tony has to deal with a couple of non-Italians. That in itself makes me nervous. Didn't Don Corleone say he was taking the family out of illegal enterprises. We all know how that turned out.

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11 minutes ago, dughlas said:

Oh, I know. I just like seeing how things unfold.

Last time it was from point A to point B in a flash. This time we take the scenic route.

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5 minutes ago, Carlos Hazday said:

Damn! Loud laughter led to a coughing fit here. Short story, Jeffrey, only 4 chapters and a microscopic epilogue. Although not in word count, we're at the halfway point chapter-wise. If I was ever going to use a cliffhanger, which of course I wouldn't, this would be the perfect spot.

"If I  was ever going to use a cliffhanger." I think I have heard that comment before, and not just from you. And halfway already? Eeeeek! Seriously, I am enjoying this. 

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3 minutes ago, JeffreyL said:

"If I  was ever going to use a cliffhanger." I think I have heard that comment before, and not just from you. And halfway already? Eeeeek! Seriously, I am enjoying this. 

@C James and @Mann Ramblings are the cliffie masters. I'm just a pup. :P

 

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Yeah, not happy with the length, some converted Carlos to short chapters 😁 

But interesting start, thanks for another story

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13 hours ago, Tonyr said:

Really? Where? Tell me and i'll look it over.

It's called Prime Time and it's one of the flash pieces in Prompt Rides

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